MINISTER of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell issued an apparent veiled threat at Baha Mar CEO and developer Sarkis Izmirlian, saying that if previous ministers of immigration such as Carl Francis, Arthur Hanna or Loftus Roker were faced with Mr Izmirlian in their day, “he would not have lasted the next day within the borders of The Bahamas”.
However, he added: “These are of course different times, kindler gentler days.
“But my predecessor in Fox Hill used to say: not only one woman born a crazy child. If you could play crazy, I can play crazy too.”
Mr Mitchell also accused Mr Izmirlian of acting “irresponsibly” when the resort filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States last month.
He also suggested that the foreign investor – who has permanent residence in The Bahamas – has got to be “crazy” for the statements he made about the government last week.
Mr Mitchell’s comments came during Independence Day celebrations in Exuma last week.
“You know that right now the prime minister is in the midst of a difficult mediation to get the Baha Mar project in Cable Beach in Nassau back on track,” Mr Mitchell said. “It is clear that the developer acted irresponsibly by seeking to remove the fate of that development out of The Bahamas to the courts of the United States of America.
“You heard the prime minister explain his role and his response to the attack by the developer on Mr Christie personally. The prime minister questioned the man’s mental state.
“You remember the late Sir Lynden Pindling who faced off before the NBC journalists in the United States and how he dealt with them as they accused him of being involved in political malfeasance. He said: ‘You all (must be) crazy.’
“So one Prime Minister Lynden Pindling set the stage, the lawyers call it precedent. The language was different but the thought the same. You can’t come to The Bahamas and talk to our leaders anyway you like. You (got to) be crazy.
“That’s why we are independent. No one can come in our country and talk to us any kind of way. This is our country. Those who don’t like how we do things here are free to find the door. Friends are welcomed to stay. When you do business here, there must be decorum and a respectful way to behave.”
Last Monday, Baha Mar released a scathing statement about the government, accusing the Christie administration of “concocting a sideshow for its own purposes”.
This came after the Ministry of Finance accused the resort of being slow to provide necessary information, thus delaying salary payments to the resort’s employees.
Baha Mar dismissed this claim and said the government’s delay in staff payments was “unconscionable and disappointing”.
Hours later, Mr Christie said he had “grave concern for the state of Mr Izmirlian’s mind” due to the intemperate and incorrect tone of the press release.
Mr Christie said: “It is particularly regrettable, that at a time when rationality and cool heads are required to deal with the current crisis at Baha Mar, the company’s leadership appears to be going to pieces under the mounting pressure.”
The war of words is part of an ongoing saga which unfolded after Baha Mar filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US on June 29, something Mr Christie has said came “without notice” to the government.
A government delegation led by Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson is in China now for negotiations, set to begin today, on the Baha Mar impasse.